Since arriving in New York in 2014, Odell Beckham Jr. has exceeded all expectations and become the face of the franchise for the New York Giants. Now he has a brand new contract to go with his enormous production.
The Giants and Beckham agreed to a five-year deal worth $95 million, with $65 million guaranteed that will make him the highest-paid receiver in the game, as first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Beckham signed the contract the next day, saying it’s something he’s dreamed about his entire life.
The deal comes after months of negotiations between the two sides, though Beckham avoided the nuclear option of a holdout and participated in all phases of the team’s official offseason workouts. The former All-Pro was set to make $8.459 million this fall — a substantial raise from the $1.839 million he made in 2017, but still below market for a receiver of his talents, especially with the opportunity to leave New York as a free agent looming in 2019.
Beckham had previously sat out OTAs in a clear signal that he was eager to start contract negotiations in 2017, and even though he attended training camp, he made it known he wants to be the highest-paid player of all time. A broken ankle robbed him of the opportunity to show out on the field last fall, but the club’s sudden free fall only proved to solidify his value to the team. Now, with a secure contract in hand, he’ll be tasked with pulling the league’s 31st-ranked scoring offense out of the dregs.
The Giants paid big for a potential Hall of Famer
The Giants selected Beckham with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, hoping to give Eli Manning some help in the receiving game. The LSU product has a slow start to his career, missing the first four games with a hamstring injury. However, once Beckham took the field, he instantly transformed the Giants’ offense, dazzling fans and baffling opponents with his graceful blend of size, speed, and route-running skills.
It didn’t take long for Beckham to produce a signature highlight reel. In just the seventh game of his rookie year, Beckham hauled down a one-handed catch for the ages, fighting off pass interference and the laws of physics for an incredible touchdown. Four years later, it’s still hard to believe this happened.
Despite playing just 12 games, Beckham finished the 2014 season with 91 catches, 1,305 yards, and 12 touchdowns. In the first three years of his career, he averaged 96 catches, 1,374 yards, and 11.6 touchdowns, emerging as one of the best wide receivers of his generation.
Of course, Beckham hasn’t been free from controversy. As much as his game play made him famous, he’s also become noted for his on-field demeanor and occasional outbursts. The most infamous example occurred in the 2015 season, when Beckham and then-Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman spent an entire game locked in a physical and mental battle of wits. Things came to a head in the fourth quarter when Beckham speared Norman in the helmet on an obvious dirty play. Beckham was fined and suspended one game for this incident.
As ugly as that episode was, there are other times when the controversy surrounding Beckham was just ... dumb.
The Giants need Beckham to help put one of the franchise’s ugliest periods behind it
In 2016, the Giants finally broke a long playoff drought (they hadn’t been back since winning the Super Bowl in 2011) and Beckham was set to play the first postseason game of his career. During the week leading up to the playoffs, a picture surfaced of himself and teammates hanging out on a boat, which brought out all the concern trolls and hot take artists who thought he should’ve been preparing for the game instead. (Who’s to say he wasn’t?)
Beckham went on to have a brutal performance in the Wild Card round, catching just 4 of 11 targets and committing several back-breaking drops as the Giants fell to the Green Bay Packers, 38-13. Of course, the boat had nothing to do with the game, but that didn’t stop the usual suspects from feeling vindicated. (We blame the R&B photoshoot curse instead.)
In 2017, Beckham had 302 yards and three touchdowns on 25 receptions in just four games. He was on pace to have another stellar season, but because of his ankle, he missed the majority of the season, and missed out on a Pro Bowl nod for the first time in his career.
New York cratered without him. The Giants had the worst 16-game record in franchise history, and at 3-13 were worse than any non-Browns team in the NFL. Head coach Ben McAdoo was fired before the season could end, but not before he ended Eli Manning’s consecutive starts streak in favor of throwing Geno Smith into the lineup for a 24-17 loss to the Raiders.
Just how important is Beckham to the Giants? Check out his teammates celebrating news of the deal in the locker room.
Despite all the hot air and ink spilled about Beckham’s off-field exploits, his actual talent is undeniable and this extension ensures he’ll be wearing a Giants uniform for a long time. Still only 25 years old, he’ll be a critical building block on a team that has to start thinking about life after Manning. The good news is last year’s bottoming-out may have finally brought a franchise tailback to New York, and if Saquon Barkley can live up to expectations, he and Beckham will make life much easier for whomever has to follow Manning.